Mansfield Report: September 2017

Mansfield Report: September 2017
Shared a great day on the water recently with Mark Nichols of DOA Lures.

Howdy from Port, we are certainly experiencing some seriously hot weather down here on the Lower Laguna. Light breezes keep us a little cooler on the water than inland. Water temperatures are extremely warm, but even at 90⁰ the fishing remains very good. Since the beginning of summer I have had numerous father-son trips and these are always a pleasure. I have experienced firsthand, the son out-fishing the dad and, for the record, I have not seen a disappointed dad.

Tournaments continue to highlight weekends in Port but as September rolls around this will slow down a bit and boat traffic should follow suit. This is when the true transition to fall fishing begins to take place. With slightly cooler temperatures (emphasis on slightly) and days growing a little shorter, we can expect an uptick in fishing success. Lower Laguna hardcores revel in that feeling you get walking outside just before dawn, into the season’s first cool breeze. Right now, though, we’re stuck with 100⁰ afternoon highs.

Last month, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to speak at the CCA Hill Country Chapter’s quarterly membership meeting. I was greatly flattered that they wanted to hear about the Empty Stringers Catch and Release Program. Great news but, apart from a simple discussion, I did not know how to deliver the message because this program is basically only a philosophy with a name – two Lower Laguna guides, Capt. Ernest Cisneros and myself, trying to make difference while making a fisheries conservation statement. Well, I threw together a 40-slide Power Point presentation and gave it a go. Seemed to go over well and the folks seemed to enjoy the program. The proof will be in whether I get invited back.

As mentioned above, fishing has been good around Port. Trout action has been steady but we are having to sift through quite a few small fish for folks wanting fillets. That seems to be OK, though. The number of bites keeps a smile on their faces, in addition to being a good sign for the future of the fishery. The willingness of small trout to bite also presents opportunity for testing the durability of soft plastic lures. Between those sharp teeth and their thrashing, they can certainly tear up a lot of baits.

Redfish have been appearing with greater regularity and we ran over a nice school recently, which was encouraging.Another species worth mentioning is the flounder. Most trips are producing at least one and sometimes more weighing up to five pounds. Catching one, I immediately slow down and really work the area because there are usually more than one.

During July we attended the Hunting and Fishing Expo in McAllen. That show also brought Mark Nichols of DOA Lures to town, and opportunity to spend a day on the water. Capt. Ernest Cisneros and I were invited to a fishing and conservation event in Florida last year where we first met Mark and spent time on the water with Capt. Ed Zyak, also with DOA. I informed both Ed and Mark that when they came to Texas for the McAllen show they needed to come a day early so I could repay the hospitality we received in Florida.

Well, a few weeks before the show I reached out and reminded them both of the offer. They took me up on it and showed up at my house the Wednesday before the event. We enjoyed an outstanding day of fishing, double hook-ups were common and plenty of laughter. Both Ed and Mark are great guys so I thought it relevant to mention it here. It is not often you find this connection.

Moving into fall, expect fishing to get even better as boat traffic diminishes. School will be back in session and bird hunting always draws hunters away from the water. Reds will be schooling and easy to pattern as they move toward the passes and jetties. I will still be fishing calf- to thigh-deep water and using topwaters, depending the floating grass situation.

Fish will either be staging on or near grass lines or around potholes on the flats. Floating grass problems usually have me throwing plastic, especially the KWigglers Willow Tail Shad. This bait has been continuously proving itself as a producer since it hit the market earlier this year. The action is great and it is buoyant in nature; on a 1/8-ounce jig head it is deadly on big trout.Any twitch of your rod tip produces tail action that prompts reaction strikes from any gamefish.

As always remember to practice good conservation and be courteous on the water.